Ongoing loadshedding has increased the cost of conducting business for both Shumani Industrial Equipment and its customers, says MD Victor Nemukula. “These increased costs have impacted new staff acquisition. Our customers have had to invest in back-up power generation either through photovoltaic systems or gensets. This impacts their capital spend which, in turn, affects their investment in new equipment.”
However, since the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a marked improvement in business activity, notes Nemukula. “All our employees are working from various Shumani premises around the country. Some Blue Chip customers are still practicing strict Covid-19 protocols, which restricts business contacts. Despite this, the economy is growing, and we have returned to pre-pandemic growth as a business.”
Nemukula attributes the growth to many companies that froze their equipment spend during Covid-19 and are now having to replace or upgrade their fleet as the economy returns to a ‘new normal’. Shumani is also continuing with its diversification drive, entering new markets such as materials handling equipment for the port sector, serviced from its regional office in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.
“It is a niche market with only specialised players that are involved mainly in import and export,” says Nemukula. However, Shumani is making inroads into this market as it boasts the largest short-term rental fleet in the country at present.
Looking at its foray into supplying equipment for the mining industry, Nemukula says Shumani is still putting the necessary resources in place to ensure it can compete effectively here. “We should start seeing sustained growth over the next 12 months,” he stresses.
In terms of the impact of ongoing loadshedding on equipment trends, Nemukula says that with electricity becoming a scarce and costly resource, many companies are investing in alternative energy sources. “There is also a concern about increasingly expensive fossil fuels like diesel, which has resulted in many companies moving to battery energy storage solutions as well as electric equipment.”
On the enterprise and supplier development side, Shumani is working with various small and emerging black-owned suppliers. For example, transport business KK Towing is supplying logistics services. Netshi Engineering is providing maintenance and repair services for warehousing and port equipment, while Mokgalaka focuses on engineering services. These three companies have offices at Shumani’s main premises. “We are looking at assisting them to scale their businesses to provide improved quality services,” says Nemukula.
Looking ahead, the port and warehousing markets lead the way in terms of growth. “We are already seeing robust growth going into 2023 in these two sectors,” reveals Nemukula. There are also new products that will be announced next year once the necessary logistics have been finalised. He concludes: “Tough times will not last forever. I see a rainbow on the horizon.”